In 1996 he was named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history. He played from 1962 to 1974. In 2003 he suffered a tragic death that shocked the NBA world.
Dave DeBusschere quickly made an immediate impact when he got to the NBA
In 1962, the Detroit Pistons selected DeBusschere in the NBA draft. As a rookie, he averaged 12.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He missed most of the second season due to injury and only played in 15 games. After his injury, he made a full recovery and helped the Pistons out a lot during his time there. From 1966 to 1968, he made the All-Star team as a member of the Pistons and during the 1966-67 season, he averaged a career-high in points (18.2) and averaged 11.8 rebounds.
At 6-foot-6, DeBusschere played the forward position and could score in many different ways. He was also a force on the glass and knew how to get in good positions to secure rebounds. DeBusschere spent six and a half seasons playing for his hometown team. During the 1968-69 season, he was traded to the New York Knicks after playing 29 games with the Pistons. Just like his time in Detroit, he made an impact playing in New York as well.
He continued to be a double-double machine for the Knicks, and in 1970, DeBusschere was a part of the Knicks team that won the NBA Finals as they defeated the Los Angeles Lakers. The Knicks had a talented team when DeBusschere played for them. He was teammates with future Hall of Famers Willis Reed, Bill Bradley, and Walt Frazier. In 1973, DeBusschere played with another future Hall of Famer in Earl Monroe as the Knicks defeated the Lakers again to win the 1973 NBA Finals. In his final NBA season, DeBusschere averaged 18.1 points and 10.7 rebounds with the Knicks. He finished his career averaging 16.1 points and 11 rebounds. DeBusschere was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
Baseball career and life after basketball
DeBusschere was a talented baseball player as well. In college, he led the University of Detroit to three NCAA tournament berths as a pitcher. In 1962, he signed with the Chicago White Sox as a free agent. He spent his summers pitching for the White Sox from 1962 to 1963. DeBusschere is one of 13 athletes to have played in both the NBA and MLB.
After his NBA career, he took a front-office job working with the New York Nets (now Brooklyn Nets) of the American Basketball Association. A year later, he became the ABA’s commissioner for the 1975-76 season. He played a part in helping out with the merger between the ABA and the NBA. The Hall of Famer became the assistant coach and director of basketball operation of the Knicks during the 1980s.
Dave DeBusschere tragic death felt by many
DeBusschere impacted the game of basketball in many ways, both on and off the court. In May of 2003, he collapsed on a Manhattan street from a heart attack and was pronounced dead at the New York University Hospital. He was 62 years old. His death came as a surprise to many people throughout the basketball world.
DeBusschere’s college alma mater, University of Detroit Mercy, decided to honor him and created the Dave DeBusschere scholarship in 2003. The scholarship provides support to two student-athletes that must have a minimum grade point average of 3.0 and have shown exceptional leadership skills. DeBusschere will always be remembered for what he did on and off the court.